santa maria style bbq tri tip recipe

santa maria style bbq tri tip recipe

santa maria style bbq tri tip recipe

RECIPES | Santa Maria style BBQ tri tip dates back to the mid-19th century when local ranchers would host Spanish-style BBQs for their vaqueros (cowboys). It involves simple dry rub of black pepper, garlic powder, salt and, in our case, espresso grounds. Cooked for 1 hour over hot coals and hickory wood chips (the closest native Australian wood to Californian live oak), it’s simple and delicious.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes / Cooking Time: 45mins – 1 hour / Serves 4


  • 1 piece tri tip ~700g
  • 5g table salt
  • 5g garlic powder
  • 5g finely ground black pepper
  • 5g coffee grounds (fine espresso grind)


  1. Take your tri tip out of the fridge and let it get to room temperature.
  2. Heat up your coals as per the instructions for your BBQ
  3. Mix the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and coffee grounds until you have a consistent rub.
  4. Generously coat all sides of the tri tip with the rub
  5. Cook the tri tip over hot charcoals (~300°F/150°C), until the internal temperature of the meat is 125°F/50°C (for rare) or 140°F/60°C (for medium). Between 45mins to 1 hour.
  6. Remove the tri tip from the coals and let it rest for around five minutes.
  7. Slice against the grain to the desired thickness (we like about 1.3cm/½ inch per piece) and serve


The espresso grounds aren’t necessary for the rub, and indeed aren’t part of the traditional Santa Maria rub recipe, but we think they add a nice flavour that enhances each bite.

For an extra-dramatic black crust effect, add a few capsules of activated charcoal to the rub.